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Learning To Accept Yourself As An Introvert

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Learning To Accept Yourself As An Introvert

If you identify as a natural introvert like myself, you’ll understand the problems and obstacles we sometimes have to face. Whether it is pressure we put on ourselves or stigmas created due to remarks made by others, it can often feel as though we are expected to be different. As though being quieter than our extroverted counterparts is a bad thing. At times it can feel like, due to repetitive demands from others to be a little more outgoing, you are expected to start climbing on tables swinging a microphone around your head shouting all of your daily activities. Or that one might just be me.

Here, Louise Watson of Tiny Buddha explores her journey to accepting herself as the natural introvert that she is:

“What other people think of me is none of my business.” ~Wayne Dyer

“You’re too quiet.”

This comment and others like it have plagued me almost all my life. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told that I needed to come out of my shell, to be livelier, or to talk more. As a child and teenager, I allowed these remarks to hurt me deeply. I was already shy, but I became even more self-conscious as I was constantly aware of people waiting for me to speak. When I did, the response was often, “Wow! Louise said something!” This would make me just want to crawl back into my shell and hide. I became more and more reserved.

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The older I got, the angrier I became. Each time someone told me I was “too quiet,” I wondered what exactly they were hoping to achieve anyway. Did they imagine I had a magic button I could press that would turn me into Miss Showbiz? If only it were that simple, I thought. I felt I should be accepted as I was, but apparently that wasn’t going to happen. There was only one thing for it; I would have to become the extrovert the world wanted me to be, but how?

At 17, I thought I’d found the perfect solution: alcohol. When I was drunk, everyone seemed to like me. I was fun and outgoing; able to talk to anyone with no problems at all. However, it began to depress me that I needed a drink to do this or for anyone to like me.

Another strategy was to attach myself to a more outgoing friend. I did this at school, university, and later when I began to travel a lot in my twenties. Although I didn’t do it consciously, wherever I went I would make friends with someone much louder than me. Then I’d become their little sidekick, going everywhere with them, trying to fit in with all their friends, and even adopting aspects of their personality. Sometimes I just tried faking it.

When I was 24, I began teaching English as a Foreign Language, and a month into my first contract in Japan, I was told my students found me difficult to talk to. I was upset because I thought I had made an effort to be friendly and I didn’t understand what else I could do. After crying all night because once again I wasn’t good enough, I went into work the next day determined to be really lively and talkative. Of course, it didn’t work because everyone could see I was being false. It seemed that I was doomed. I would never be accepted. Being a naturally loud person was the only way to be liked.

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Or maybe not.

Over the years, I’ve spoken to several talkative, extroverted people who’ve been told they’re too loud or that they talk too much. It seems whatever personality you’ve got you’re always going to be “too much” of something for someone.

What really matters is: do you think you need to change?

My shyness has made some areas of my life more difficult. It’s something I’ve been working on all my life and I always will be in order to do all the things I want to do. However, I’ve realized I’m always going to be an introvert, which is not the same thing. I enjoy going out and socializing, but I also enjoy being alone. At work I talk to people all day, every day. I like my job, but as an introvert, I get tired after all that interaction, so later I need some quiet time to “recharge my batteries.” I can overcome my shyness. I can’t overcome my introversion, but actually, I wouldn’t want to because I’m happy being this way.

Be kind to yourself if you decide to change.

While I’m still shy, I no longer worry about it.  When speaking to new people, if something comes out wrong or I get my words mixed up, I just laugh to myself about my nervousness rather telling myself how weird the other person must’ve thought I was.

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In the past I was terrified of any form of public speaking. Now my job is getting up in front of people and talking. After a rocky start in Japan, my students now see me as funny (sometimes!) and confident. So I think I’m doing alright. No, I don’t understand why I can’t just be like that with everyone, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m doing my best and that’s all I can do.

Don’t be afraid to lose false friends.

When you’re always being told you’re too much of this or not enough of that, it’s easy to start thinking you have to be grateful that anyone is willing to spend time with you. I used to put up with friends who treated me badly because I thought if I stood up for myself, I’d lose their friendship and I’d end up all alone.

Eventually, in my last year teaching abroad, I did stand up for myself and my worst fear came true. I was left completely friendless. And you know what? It was okay. The time alone taught me to enjoy my own company, and gave me the chance to learn more about myself. This has gradually led to me attracting more positive people into my life.

Could your supposed weakness actually be your strength?

I’m a good listener, so friends feel able to talk to me if they have a problem and they know I’m not going to tell anyone. I’m an efficient worker because I just get on with the job. I can empathize with shy students in my class. I don’t force them to speak but leave them alone, knowing that they’ll talk when they feel more comfortable.

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There’s a reason why you were made the way you are. If we were all supposed to be the same, we would be. I’ve stopped trying to make everyone like me and I’ve stopped trying to be something I’m not. As a result, any changes in my character happen naturally as my confidence continues to grow. The “quiet” comments are also now few and far between. When you learn to accept yourself, you’re likely to find that others will accept you too.

But if they don’t, it really doesn’t matter.

More by this author

Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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